Q. I know I should be saving 10% of my income, but I just don’t make enough money. My bills take up just about all my paycheque. I can’t afford to save.

You can’t afford NOT to save.

I find that the very people who believe they can’t save somehow manage to give the bank $48 in overdraft fees each month, or $25 for late credit card payments.

So, I’d venture to say that if you can pay the bank this money every month involuntarily, there should be a way to squeeze out a few bucks to give to your savings account voluntarily.

What are you spending on? Do you bring home bags of stuff from the mall that you don’t need because there was a sale? Are you puffing away on cigarettes, buying lottery tickets and downing shots at the bar every weekend?

According to an Acorn “Money Matters” report on financial literacy, 41% of millennials admit to spending more on coffee last year than they invested in their retirement account.

I Don't Make Enough To Save

When you don’t make enough to save

  1. The first place to look is in your spending patterns. Go through your past bank and credit card statements with a fine-tooth comb. Almost everyone can find some things to reduce or eliminate completely.
  1. If too much debt is your problem, you need to develop an aggressive plan to pay it off. Each month will put you on a better financial footing. And, it’s not okay to continue buying stuff. The quickest way to get out of debt is to stop creating new debt.
  1. Don’t have an unrealistic savings goal. Maybe right now you can’t save 10%, or (gulp) 20% of your salary. Make a commitment to start saving something. Start small and train yourself to become a saver. You may only manage $10 a week, or $10 a month at first. Pick a goal you want to start saving for. Every little bit helps and it adds up. Then increase the amount as your financial situation improves.
  1. It can be hard to save if you have a small income. If you are unable to save much on your current income you need to increase it. You can’t just wait for times to get better. Find an additional source of income, or even a new job.
  1. You’re already on an austerity diet and have cut to the bone. You’ve got rid of cable, buy used stuff, use coupons, stay away from restaurants, and cut your own hair. Now, reassess your goals. Is this a temporary situation while you rigorously pay off your debts, get your start-up going, or reach the next rung of your career ladder? Also, look at your current lifestyle. There is almost always at least one more area that you can cut back on.
  • You can find a roommate or move to a less expense part of town.
  • You could downsize if your living space is more than you need right now.
  • Find a way to carpool to work, or ditch that pricey SUV altogether and take transit.

Final thoughts

Saving money is all about making sure your expenses don’t exceed your income – it’s not rocket science.

There are all kinds of excuses, but you will only save money when you make it a priority.

You’re not making it a high enough priority when you are unwilling to give up certain non-necessities, when you’d rather buy that pizza, latest iPhone, Smart TV, or living room furniture.

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